Sunday, March 20, 2011

"Let This Darkness Be a Bell Tower"

Are you familiar with the American Public Media radio program Being with Krista Tippett? Today, she interviewed Joanna Macy whom I've known about as a scholar of Buddhism and ecology. I did not realize until today that she is a translator of the poety of Rainer Maria Rilke. Here's one that Macy recited on air today and it moved me deeply:

Quiet friend who has come so far,
feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell. As you ring,

what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change.
What is it like, such intensity of pain?
If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.

In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.

And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am.

- translation by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows


  1. thanks ellie...this is great....

  2. I heard this too, yesterday as I was coming home from church. I intended to find the web site and print the poem but now I don't have to! Thanks.

  3. I was privileged to attend a workshop facilitated by Joanna Macy a couple of years ago in the Bay area...she is truly magnificent.

    annie c


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